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An alternative high school in Guelph is named and modelled after St. John Bosco, a priest and educator who dedicated his life to helping disadvantaged and underprivileged youth. Photo/Wikimedia Commons

An alternative approach embraces complex diversity

  • June 11, 2015

This is a tale of two boys, neither of whom could function optimally in a traditional Ontario Catholic high school: uniform, attendance, homework.

Jared was more tornado than student, touching down in places both quiet and busy in our school. Often he drove teachers crazy with his energy bursts and impulsive behaviour: smoking on school property, removing expensive equipment from the auto shop and sprinting down hallways as if he were a cricket bowler ready to unleash something that would level wickets and echo across continents. He was irrepressible.

I was the frustrated school disciplinarian.  

The second last time I saw him, I was emerging from the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate in downtown Guelph after Sunday Mass. He drove by in a large pick-up truck while using my name in a variety of innovatively profane ways.

Either who he perceived me to be or what I represented to him caused Jared to “kick against the pricks” (Acts 26.14). On that Sunday morning, we shared a humiliation made manifest by the reality of square pegs and round holes.

The other boy, Tyson, was a bundle of impulsive honesty and pragmatic economic theory. He boldly told his student success teacher that he had lost his last honest job and was selling pot to make ends meet. Turns out he was selling from the school parking lot. When the school police resource officer found him weighing and bagging the product in his car, his life in high school became more litigious — and heading for an alternative environment.

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